Flag in Exile by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Flag in Exile (Honor Harrington book 5) by David Weber
This book is great, but I think I like the forth book better. This one we get to see another side of Honor. In a way, from her own point of view she starts to look a bit like a whiny woe is me everything I touch turns out bad. And with as many people who have died in the first four novels it's not all that hard to see why. It's a good thing that what David Weber excels at is giving the reader the other picture of Honor from the people around her. I have nothing to truly measure by but I often feel that David Weber creates military characters for both sides that are often overly honorable while they slaughter each other and I'm not sure that it is the way it is or the way many would like to believe it should be.
On half pay and in semi-retirement and shame Honor has moved to her Steadholder property Harrington on Grayson. As with the last book this book involves a lot of political intrigue on both sides of the war and some social upheaval on Grayson.It's difficult to tell sometimes if the Protector of Grayson , Benjamin Mayhew and High Admiral Wesley Mathews have Honor's best interests at heart. Sure they have enough to deal with trying to upend their own social order and religious beliefs, but they seem to have put themselves in a place where they are using Honor more than rewarding her. And though it seems we often see characters in black and white as regards Honor it is evident in this book that there are many who praise her while they hate her which seems more duplicitous and maybe greyish.
Once again I'll caution new readers do not expect a lot of space battles, start at the beginning of the series and work your way up and it will ween you into David Weber's style. We do get to see Hamish Alexander in action a bit and there is a lot of military posturing along with the politics, but the actual battle time is very short and near the end.
This story is almost written as a counterpoint to the events in the last book. Honor will have to go through a similar personal trial but the motive and method created in this book make it quite a bit different from last book.
There is almost too much time spent with the trials and tribulations of both sides political climate. Whole chapters devoted to essentially telling us that 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown'. Both side seem to be mired in rotten politics and the inability to act decisively. The both seem to bungle along merrily heading into battles that will kill thousands.
While Honor is feeling low we get to see how the men who protect her see her and their very loyalty speaks volumes about the person she really is. The men of Grayson have to struggle with this woman who is an example of everything they've been taught a woman shouldn't be, but to their credit the ones close to her can see her for what she is. Eventually they will wise up and give her the kick she needs to get going again. In some ways though they do tend to drag her down with over-protection.
Once Honor gets back into the routine of things it's back to her cool calculated killer self again, although she does occasionally laps into self doubt based on the faces of people she's lost in previous battles.
I can honestly say that if I didn't have all the other eyes looking at her and showing me the real Honor Harrington I'm not sure how much I would like the person she kept presenting herself as in this story.
David Weber is still doing a lot of world building and because in Grayson things are poised for change it does seem critical to find out what it is that is being changed. If a reader has made it this far in the series they are used to this, or should be. And he does it so elegantly sometimes that I felt like I shouldn't interrupt and tell him to get to the point.
Once again this is a good book for those who like Military Science Fiction with heavy description in strategy and power and the political posturing that goes on beneath the whole mess. It's also a pretty good study of Honor's character if you know where to look.
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